Benchmarking 2015 Summary

Mike Porth

EDITOR’S NOTE: To help introduce the Benchmarking Summary for 2015 we reached out to someone we know looks forward to receiving this information and uses it extensively. Mike Porth, Corporate Procurement & Business Development Manager at Smithfield Foods has been studying PigCHAMP Benchmarking data for over 15 years. We asked him how he uses this information to understand the KPIs that are important to him and gave him an early look at the 2015 numbers.

Pork production today is ever-changing and has many stakeholders throughout the value chain. We can get so caught up sometimes with taking care of our direct duties that we may not do a good job of keeping abreast of those other segments that impact the pork industry. I take pride in having some key resources to increase my awareness of performance issues and opportunities in these segments. That’s one reason why I’ve been following PigCHAMP’s Benchmark data since 2000.

Industry leaders need to be well rounded with information from every spoke on the wheel. I work to enhance my knowledge in all areas, and the Benchmark data from PigCHAMP meets a need in the sow productivity area. I see this as an opportunity for enhancing my own and my company’s professional knowledge base.

I look at this data base from three different angles: integrity of data; updates on this segment of business; and tracking of annual trends independent of health and production issues. I study this information so I can better understand and be aware of what is happening during business reviews with our suppliers.

It is important to use sources of accurate and unbiased data. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Jayne Jackson and Susan Olson at PigCHAMP to better understand the scrutiny all data is put through before it’s recorded or put out to the web for suppliers and industry to read and review. This is why I feel confident when referencing in presentations or discussing with suppliers. The scrutiny of these key performance indicators (KPI) just enhances the value of the data in my opinion. I’ve realized this data is put together using a high level of analysis before it hits publication and I really appreciate it. I focus on the mean (average) data, not only the top 10%. I focus on the following KPIs; Farrowing Rate, Total Born, Born Alive, Total Pigs Weaned, Pre Weaning Mortality %, and Pigs Weaned /Mated Sow /Year. These indicators help me understand today’s traits that support the bottom line of our suppliers and the pigs that will be marketed to our plants. Everyone using the data has their own set of key indicators, my goal is to keep abreast of happenings in other segments today and these KPIs are critical!

It Is Important To Use Sources Of Accurate And Unbiased Data

I also appreciate the analytics of these KPIs. Some might call me a spreadsheet nerd, but I want to understand trends of data as well as the underlying health and production influencers to make sense of what’s happening in a trend and why it happened. One example is the PEDV issues we saw in 2014. You can easily look at some of these KPIs and see that fewer sows farrowed and pigs weaned, then you start looking at quarterly numbers from 2015 to see that we’ve put the ship back on course. I like to review trend lines and where we might be in 5 and 10 years down the road and the impact this could make on supply, and hope demand will support it. I also like to benchmark PigCHAMP’s KPIs against other databases.

The USDA puts out a quarterly Hogs & Pigs report which I track because it’s critical to our business. More than anything I’ll review trends in data in the H&P report vs. PigCHAMP.

We’ve seen a combination of genetic improvement, biosecurity enhancements, and improved production practices supporting the gains we’ve seen through these KPIs. We’ve also seen health issues that can diminish production just as fast. So seeing the improvements as well as the downturns shows the industry how fast production can turn. The quarterly and annual benchmarks help those of us not directly involved in production follow these KPIs.

In reviewing the 2015 vs. 2014 data you can make the assumption that some of the KPIs critical to production have come back on line. We’ve seen a lot of areas that have impacted production and might again in the future, so watching these trends is helpful for everyone.

The suppliers I meet with expect me to discuss KPIs important for packer relationships such as in carcass weight vs. matrix, sort premium/discount, delivery schedules, non-ambulatory and dead on arrivals vs. plant averages to help them better understand areas to enhance net dollars. Suppliers also expect me to be abreast of their KPIs critical to the business and productivity is one of those critical areas. With the discussions around group housing, batch farrowing, new A.I. techniques and other production practices, it’s critical tracking impact of KPIs in the production arena as we move forward.

I am looking forward to working with PigChamp as they focus on the other parts of the production cycle with the same integrity and scrutiny as they have with the sow production data and KPIs involved with it. Over-all this should enhance their business model and it becomes a one stop shop for overall production data.

I appreciate a resource like this to help add depth to supplier discussions.





- Mike Porth
Mike Porth is Corporate Procurement & Business Development Manager at Smithfield Foods.